WD World

Celebrity Endorsements: Worth Waking Up With Fleas?

Shaq drives a Buick, Samuel L. Jackson loves Capital One, David Beckham wears H&M skivvies and Jennifer Aniston quenches her thirst with Smart Water. But what are the actual benefits to having a celebrity endorse a product? And the pitfalls?

Celebrities give some strange sort of validity to a product; if the gorgeous Jennifer Aniston drinks Smart Water, I think I may give it a shot too.  Or maybe my husband can look as fabulous as Beckham in those boxer briefs. If the celebrity is consistent with the brand’s identity, these endorsements can be successful — but the association should be aspirational. You wouldn’t want Hulk Hogan endorsing Banana Boat’s new SPF45 because … come on.

The issue is if it’s worth it not it to take a chance on a celebrity, because if scandal hits, your brand could suffer collateral damage.  Tiger Woods has a 5-year, $100 million contract with Nike. The two started their relationship in 1996 (Tiger was only 19), and Nike even stuck with him after the scandal in 2009.  Choosing a young, record-setting golfer to represent its product was a great move on Nike’s part, and Tiger’s skill made him worth it, warts and all.  A lesser athlete would likely have felt the axe drop on his bottom line.

The deal can also backfire for the celebrity’s brand. Back in Nov. 2010, the Kardashians decided that being the face of MasterCard’s new prepaid card would be a fab idea.  Who better to represent conspicuous consumption?  They slapped their picture in all its Photoshopped glory on the new plastic “Kardashian Kard,” and it all went downhill from there. The fees were outrageous — a 12-month card cost $99.95 to own, plus a $9.95 purchase fee and $7.95 per month to use.  And the card was obviously targeted to young women who didn’t know much about the credit card industry, reflecting rather poorly on MasterCard and the Kardashians for trying to swindle their young female fans.  After a week of scrutiny and bad press, the Kardashians pulled out of that business and have since stuck to things they know better … like glittery eye makeup.

Celebrity endorsements can be a great idea, but it’s imperative that the celebrity be right for the brand and easily associated with its identity, and the brand be a positive reflection of the image the celebrity wants to portray.  After all, when you lay down with dogs …

*Photo: Courtesy of Dodge

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